Today, the field of computer science is heavily male-dominated — men earn the vast majority of undergraduate and Ph.D. degrees in the field. But this wasn’t always true. When computers were first developed, we weren’t sure what kind of job programming was, whether a highly technical scientific occupation or a more secretarial-type one akin to being a typist. The fluidity of the developing field initially attracted significant numbers of women.
Anjan G. sent in an example of the normalization of computer programming as a female occupation, posted at Fog Creek. This article appeared in a 1967 issue of Cosmopolitan and quotes computer scientist Dr. Grace Hopper, a pioneer in the field, discussing why programming is a perfect fit for women — by drawing partly on gender stereotypes by assuming women are “naturals” at programming because they’re patient and pay attention to details:
You can find a larger image here.
Also, if you’re interested, Fog Creek, a software company, looked at their own data to see if male and female job applicants have equal chances of getting hired, and they posted an interview with the only woman working on their technical staff, an intern.